Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization -
International Vaccine Centre

Coronaviruses – animal model and vaccine development

Project Leader: Darryl Falzarano

Despite recent attention, emerging viruses continue to pose serious threats to human and animal health. Coronaviruses are a diverse group of viruses, some of which emerge sporadically, most recently illustrated by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Middle East and a highly pathogenic form of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in North America. Many of these viruses likely originate in the multitude of bat species, and through intermediate hosts cross the species barrier to cause disease in humans, livestock and domestic animals. Current coronavirus vaccines, where available, offer limited protection against divergent viruses and there are no effective vaccines for MERS-CoV or highly pathogenic PEDV. For MERS-CoV, which likely uses the camel as an intermediate host, the development of a suitable animal model for vaccine testing is needed. This will allow assessment of the effectiveness of different vaccine strategies in the most relevant model.

A larger goal is to develop pan-coronavirus vaccines that provide protection against more than a single strain or cluster of viruses. Using structural biology and protein engineering we propose to develop improved vaccines that offer enhanced cross-protection against different coronaviruses.


  • Develop suitable animal model for MERS-CoV
  • Develop camel vaccine against MERS-CoV that prevents transmission
  • Develop structure-based pan-coronavirus vaccine(s) using MERS-CoV and PEDV as platforms for respiratory and enteric coronaviruses